5 Ways To Make Handy Recycled Fire Starters

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make recycled fire starters
Creative Commons License photo credit: Martin Cathrae

Hey happy campers, time put those Girl and Boy Scout skills to use! It’s one thing to grab some dry sticks and newspaper and make a go of starting a fire- it’s another to have really handy recycled fire starters to help get that spark.

An on-site supply of dry kindling may be challenging at your campsite or it may be difficult to light if it’s windy. There’s no need to buy and store petroleum-based lighter fluid, which can be hazardous and a huge pain if it spills. Instead, grab stuff from around the house! Use these ideas in patio fire pits, barbeques, beach bonfires and other places you want to get a fire going. Throw a few of these fire starters in with your camping supplies, or keep a stockpile at home by your fireplace. They’re lightweight enough if you want to take them along for hiking into your campground. You can even give them as unique handmade gifts or sell them in a fundraiser.

In most cases they will burn a few minutes which is enough time to get the fire blazing. They’re easy and on the cheap, and you can marvel at how well they work!

Easy Set up and Cleanup

For these first three fire starter ideas, you’ll need to set up a double boiler. This is basically an old coffee can or tin set in another pot of almost boiling, hot water to slowly melt the wax. You melt down wax in this way and add it to other materials to form the fire starter. To get more in depth instructions, view this tutorial on how to recycle candles. You don’t want to melt wax over direct heat because it can burst into flames very easily.

Old Crayons
Melt old crayons that can’t be used anymore. Roll up strips of newspaper tightly and tie a piece of dental floss or string to it so the paper bundle can be a dipped into the melted wax.

These recycled fire starters are wax covered crayon wrappers, packaged in a recycled paper bag with a cellophane window.

The melted crayon approach makes a nice packaged fire starter that is not messy at all once it cools off. Remember that projects with hot wax are not recommended for kids, at least not without LOTS of adult supervision and assistance.

You could even just bundle some old crayons together with the paper still on and wrap them in wax paper. Make sure the wax paper is wider than the stack of crayons and twist the ends so it looks kind of like a Tootsie Roll.

Pine Cones

Gather fat pine cones and dip them in wax to lightly coat them. You can tie some dental floss around them so you don’t have to touch the hot wax. Add a candle wick onto them by wrapping a wick around the cone and out the top or bottom so the wax dries around it.

These can be decorative, depending on your mix of colors, and cute if placed in a basket next to your fireplace.

Wood Shavings
You can make fire starters out of sawdust or wood shavings, or any type of dry scraped wood such as pencil shavings. Collect the shavings in a paper egg carton- not the foam or plastic cartons. Press the shavings into your container as tightly as you can. Melted wax from the old crayons or candles is poured over the wood shavings, enough to soak the cardboard too, so that it stays waterproof. These work better if the temperature is not too low outside.

Paper Tower Rolls
Cut the cardboard into strips and use it as kindling. Make fire starters by stuffing them with other leftover paper goods like used tissues and napkins, or dryer lint as outlined below. Using the roll allows you to pack in the combustible material so it burns longer.

Dryer Lint
Dryer lint will burn very easily, and if you pack it tightly in a paper egg carton, it will make for much longer burning. Store it in a plastic baggie to keep it dry. Be sure to also check out a way to use old paper egg cartons in our post about recycled seed starters for transplanting seeds to your garden.

Nestle one or more of these fire starters in an upright position between logs and light. Soon they will catch fire and spread to the logs.

Also, these are pretty great for a joke.

Safety first! Remember to use extreme caution when dealing with fire.

Final Step: Grab a marshmallow and stay warm and toasty.

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